## Thursday, May 09, 2013

### Nassim Haramein: science as religion

It is the second time when I was contacted by someone who seems to be a fan of Nassim Haramein. Who is that? Another surfer dude in Hawaii, a self-taught supergenius, we are told, who will give us unlimited free energy according to the green optimists (no, there has never been anything remotely rational about the environmentalists), who has an impressive website called The Resonance Project, who will unify the mankind, and do tons of other wonderful things.

In fact, when you search for YouTube videos with him, you seem to get over 75,000 hits, videos that cover not only his unified theory, physics and spirituality, the pyramids and orion belt, but also everything else that some folks could find deep and important.

The people who believe that there's something – anything – in this stuff (it's a relatively small group, because of the small number of viewers per video, but they're real cultists, because of the number of videos) must feel happy all the time, perhaps probably because they're permanently high.

I just can't possibly get it. I can't understand how someone may overlook that this is a continuous stream of complete nonsense occasionally interrupted with isolated words taken from the physics jargon. Some aspects of it are unoriginal. This Gentleman will give us a perpetual-motion machine of the first kind, we're promised, and he's not the first one.

But for example, the trailer above – which is a trailer for a documentary about a paper called Quantum Gravity and the Holographic Mass that he managed to publish somewhere (in a junk journal whose name tries to sound like Physical Review; imagine: a documentary about a single paper) – combines mundane things about the spin (the spin is everywhere in Nature, indeed: but what exactly does he claim to have learned about it? Do his fans ever ask simple questions like that?) with some remarks about quantum mechanics, holography, anything.

And sometimes you're pushed towards a punch line after which you want to explode in laughter and some of you even may explode. For example, he says that all the miracles may be done with the help of the most fundamental particle in the world. There is a pause for you to think what is the most fundamental particle according to this chap: the Higgs boson, the graviton, the photon, the neutralino, or something completely new? After the pause, you're told the answer:

It's the proton!

Holy cow. The proton is the messiest and non-fundamental particle that has ever been called "elementary" by people in the 20th century. It's a bound state of 3 valence quarks glued together with so much glue and excess kinetic and potential energy that the 3 quarks only add about two percent to the rest mass of the proton. The rest is mess, gluons, quark-antiquark pairs, and so on.

Moreover, and this fact is of course related to the compositeness, the proton isn't unique at all. It has all the siblings in the multiplets – the neutron is the closest relative which belongs to the same isospin doublet (=couple) with the proton. One may extend the doublet to an $$uds$$ baryon octet (=eight elements). More generally, all strongly interacting particles – hadrons – are proton's relatives and there are hundreds of them.

The proton is the most stable hadron but this stability is just a result of many unimportant coincidences and accidental inequalities satisfied by the masses of the objects etc. The neutron decays to the proton and other things (electron plus antineutrino) simply because it just happens to be a bit heavier, enough to decay. If the neutron were a bit lighter, it could be the other way around: the proton could decay to a neutron, a positron, and a neutrino.

Haramein's idea that the proton is fundamental is reflected in various papers he wrote, e.g. one about the Schwarzschild proton that offers some preposterous claims about the proton's being a black hole or something like that. (Just to be sure, a proton has an extremely low density relatively to what is required for small black holes. The black hole of the proton mass would have to be more than 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the proton.)

People believing these things – perhaps including Haramein himself – must have no clue whatsoever about the difference between things and concepts that are fundamental according to the modern scientific arguments and those that are not (or those that are extremely far from it). I am inclined to think that this inability to distinguish is the root of all the spiritual misinterpretations of physics and any religious cult that claims to be compatible with modern physics.

For millennia, people would talk about anthropomorphic gods. They were fundamental in the scheme of things. Well, science was going in a very different direction. Fundamental things in the Universe can't resemble humans because humans are extremely far from being fundamental themselves. They're demonstrably composed of smaller co-operating parts – at many hierarchically arranged levels – that just teamed up to create many composite objects. Organisms are among them, all organisms are relatives of each other, and humans are probably more skillful than others due to many other accidents and random mutations and happy coincidences in their history. The difference isn't truly "fundamental" in the sense of "totally qualitative". A human may be skillful or smart but it's just nothing else than a slightly improved monkey.

The incorrect notion that humans are "fundamental" was the basis of religions for quite some time and people are already familiar with the fact that science surely claims otherwise. But the claim that the proton, for example, is fundamental is "original". People should have known that the proton isn't fundamental for almost 40 years as well. Similar findings are clearly not widespread yet – even (and perhaps especially?) among the people who claim that "physics" (they mean Haramein's physics in this case) has changed their lives. What these people see behind the word "physics" has simply nothing to do with the actual physics and its results obtained by the scientific method. They believe that the key content of physics is a secret occult art they don't have to fully understand – it's being discovered by shamans with special, almost supernatural skills such as Mr Haramein.

You might say that this gap is just a property of a crazy cult. But it's not. To a certain extent, perhaps a smaller extent, all the people reading and believing the mass media belong to a similar cult. When you uncritically read the articles about physics in the media, especially the truly theoretical or fundamental physics or some socially sensitive fields such as the atmospheric physics, you will be filled with an amazing amount of totally nonsensical gibberish while the legitimate, interesting, and sometimes groundbreaking science will remain almost invisible.

The problem isn't just in the frequency. The nonsensical and downright wrong and childishly wrong statements are generally presented with a much higher level of enthusiasm which is why they probably have the capacity to send a higher number of new people on the wrong track. The ultimate underlying reason is that the average people – and journalists are average people – represent just a subset of the relatively stupid monkeys. There's no easy fix.

Bonus, via Preposterous Universe: Neil deGrasse "Mike" Tyson is defending manned spaceflights by yelling at Lawrence Krauss and attempting to break Brian Greene's mouth into thousands of tiny pieces. Rest of debate: this piece is at 32:50 here. (Warning: lots of cheap tendentious crap about climate change and women's being 50% of the science community is voiced there.)

One more comment. Stephen Hawking decided to boycott an Israeli presidential conference although his spokesman tried to claim that health concerns were the reason why he won't come. It's very unfortunate for Hawking to fight against this country which is one of the world's main science powerhouses – if not the strongest one (per capita, among comparably large areas or segments of the population).

1. Lubos, these people are not worth even doing blog posts about. I had a colleague at my previous work who was a relatively smart guy, but was deep into BS like "vortex mathematics" and other stuff.

After a few discussion I just had to quit. Some people I guess are just born this way - not being able to comprehend things.

2. good post. scientists should learn some things from Haramein.
although he appeals to a certain audience he can appeal to them. being able to do science does not mean that you should not be able to popularise it without the bullshit.

3. do you think what he says is related to the Brian Cox philosophy?

4. LOL, what a crackpot :-D !

This guy clearly belongs to the category of wannabee spiritual esoteric gurus; and he is just misusing or even abusing some physics terminology he has no clue about to try to attract a larger number of followers and fans.

5. George, there's nothing to learn from Haramein. Einstein, Feynman, and currently Steven Hawking have been much much better in popularising science. Haramein can only appeal to people who are into new-age stuff.

6. Thanks, George ;-), but maybe I shouldn't be grateful! What is exactly the Brian Cox philosophy? I am sure that Brian Cox tries to sound cool which makes him sound new-age-like as well

http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/03/brian-cox-and-lunar-phases.html?m=1
http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/02/brian-cox-misunderstands-locality-pauli.html?m=1

but unlike Haramein, I think that he would at least always try to claim that all these new-age flavors of his prayers are just coincidences ;-) and he believes the proper physics that was obtained by technical and not spiritual tools.

7. Thanks, Pierre. Vortex-based mathematics must be dual to Haramein who claims that all the world's wisdom is about the spin and everyone is a brother with everyone else because everyone is spinning. ;-)

8. In some sense, it's fun that very modern physics has become a tool to collect religious cult followers. In the past, I would imagine it was more popular to invent interpretations of maximally old texts, like the Holy Scripture or the vedic texts. But words of quantum gravity are clearly at least equally potent! ;-)

Years ago, I would think it would make sense to legally frame people who believe modern science or physics etc. as believers in a religion - because believers of all religious superstitions I can think of enjoy advantages that a "believer" in the actual truth as determined by the scientific method may only be jealous about - but maybe such a religiously framed community of science believers would inevitable degrade to something like the Haramein cult pretty soon, so this fix doesn't seem to work...

9. "this country which is one of the world's main science powerhouses – if not the strongest one (per capita, among comparably large areas or segments of the population)."

But why is that? I was always wondering...

I mean why the majority of important figures in theoretical physics are Jews?

Is this a cultural thing or just genetics? Jews are more clever than other ethnicities?

Maybe Einstein served as a role model for next generations of Jews; that could be an explanation...

10. Israel is doing pretty well for a small country that's been under constant threat for all of its short existence, with huge amounts of its GDP going to defense, security, working around embargos -- problems most other countries do not have to deal with. But if you leave that aside and look only on yardsticks such as GDP per capita, national wealth, PISA scores, Math Olympiad placings, then places like Singapore come out ahead.

In any case the Kauf nicht bei Juden campaign, to which Prof. Hawking has now regrettably added his contribution by boycotting a conference in Israel, is shameful not because its target is worthier than others of protection against such initiatives but because no democratic country should have to suffer such discrimination regardless of its ranking on achievement scales.

11. Well, my opinion is that ever after Christianity a strong evolutionary selection rule has been at work with people identified by the Jewish religion. They were so often persecuted and chased out of countries as "Christ killers" that the stupidity genes were eliminated by natural selection while the arts, crafts and sciences genes were a great help on survival: you leave behind property and money is stolen, but knowledge is portable.

This skewed the distributions towards higher averages, and the frequency of excellence at the high tails of the distribution must be higher than in the world average.

12. The proton is the messiest and non-fundamental particle that has ever been called "elementary" by people in the 20th century. It's a bound state of 3 valence quarks glued together with so much glue and excess kinetic and potential energy that the 3 quarks only add about two percent to the rest mass of the proton. The rest is mess, gluons, quark-antiquark pairs, and so on.

Nowhere else would you get the inside scoop put in words like that. thanks!

13. There are plenty of Jewish intellectuals who oppose Israel's military and settlement policies. Edward Witten, Noam Chomsky etc.

Opposing
and boycotting government doesn't mean racism or downplaying
scientific achievement. Rather, not standing up against crimes that your
government commits is evil. Otherwise you are just a slave of your
state. Democracy is pointless if your mind is not liberated from
acceptance of state crime, even if the victims of the crimes are not part of a democratic nation.

14. Right. Gregory Cochran has a whole theory about it, something about over-clocking: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/cochran/overclocking.html

15. Sorry, Pat, but I am just not buying this excuse. Someone's being a Jew doesn't mean that he or she can't have anti-Semitic attitudes. Yes, they're inevitably "collectively masochist" at the same moment but they're what they are - racist attitudes.

The Israeli government is neither Witten's government nor Chomsky's government (Israel is a mostly Jewish state but that doesn't imply that every Jew in the world is Israeli) so your comment about "your government committing evil" is inapplicable. Even in Witten's and Chomsky's case, such an action/boycott is or would be an intervention into a foreign country's affairs.

Democracy is pointless if your mind is not liberated from

acceptance of state crime, even if the victims of the crimes are not part of a democratic nation.

No, this opinion is cmopletely wrong. Democracy has nothing to do with the absence of the (democratic) state's actions against others - and indeed, the defense of a (democratic) state against its (especially non-democratic) enemies is one of its main tasks, in fact,one of the main reasons for the (democratic) state's existence!

16. I'm not aware that Witten has ever called for a boycott of Israeli products, institutions or individuals. He is a J Street (click on the link for perceptive insights) supporter, please do not lump him in a category with Chomsky.

17. It wasn't that long ago when followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were running for office in Europe and North America, demonstrating their ability to levitate by bouncing around on their butts and justifying trancendental meditation with nonsensical papers on string theory and GUTs.

18. What foreign accent?

19. I would describe the Brian Cox 'philosophy' as intellectual dishonesty characterized by the flaunting of irrelevant expertise to obscure one's lack of basic understanding. This is usually done to secure or maintain one's celebrity status.

20. What is fundamental? Is it math? Is it strings? Platonism or nominalism or ...?

21. Karl Marx tried to get Charles Darwin to endorse his views too. Sort of like a celebrity endorsement of something, except that it is directed towards those who worship physics from afar, rather than those who actually wrestle with covariant derivatives. (speaking of which - is Yang-Mills the last word on Generalizing Maxwell ?).

22. These people are not even original crackpots---most of the "vortex
theory" crackpots must have picked up the meme from Descartes' 1644
Principes de Philosophie. Another highly successful and superrich
crackpot is Deepak Chopra with his Quantum Healing crap. These "New Age"
flakes and frauds are usually unoriginal "old agers (Descartes)" The
successful ones know how to manipulate the innumerate and scientifically
challenged....eg see L.S.

I think Stephen Hawking was bullied into cancelling. He usually is intellectually robust in defending his positions, but I don't think he really had a position on this and the pressure on him and on Gonville and Caius College/Cambridge from

"Palestinian academic colleagues'--(Wow, that is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.) was likely great, and he may have been "talked to" by the college.

His health IS extremely tenuous, and travel IS a big deal. I could be wrong about this and he doesn't need me to make excuses ofr him, but if it is as I characterize it, it is yet another example of Islam using our relative PC tolerance to advance their agenda and is pathetic bullying someone who has managed to live an incredibly active mental and physical life with an incredible disability.

23. We need a more fundamental word than crackpot, though. This guy is likely clever and like the tennis racket TOS guy is intentionally peddling this crap to serve another agenda. On well, stupid is necessary or there could be no smart. That fundamental is the one that serves these cults and crackpottery.

24. >The rest is mess, gluons, quark-antiquark pairs, and so on.

Does this sentence lacks a word "virtual" before "quark-antiquark pairs" to be 100% accurate?

25. That's a good question but I would say that it is impossible to say that "something contains virtual particles". A virtual particle is a part of a process - the propagator in a Feynman diagram - but if we talk about the state of a system at a given moment, everything is in principle constructed out of real particles.

The convenient way to calculate how it actually behaves is to allow some time and work with virtual particles but virtual particles can't "exist" in the same sense as the real ones.

The complicated chaos inside a proton may be described in various ways and words tend to betray us in all cases.

26. The video with Brian Greene is very funny. Is Neil deGrasse Tyson related to Mike Tyson ? ;-)

27. I think that he's at least much more related to Mike Tyson than e.g. to Brian Greene which may be enough for this particular purpose. ;-)

Congratulations to you, Shannon as a French woman, for having defeated the Russian bear in ice-hockey. Incroyable.

28. Oh wow, I didn't know since ice hockey isn't very popular in France. It is incroyable indead :-)

29. Incorrect/missing indefinite/definite articles is meaning you is foreigner.

30. You can read the paper here: http://harpending.humanevo.utah.edu/Documents/ashkiq.webpub.pdf

31. i never said he is the only person that can popularise science. although he says bullshit what you say about not trying to see what he does right is stupid like your argument about others being better.

and if you think most scientists are good or even average at it you haven't seen the way they work.

the way the world works shows that scientists and the ones you mentioned could have done a better job.

Feynman is overrated as both a populariser and a scientist and this is related to what Giotis asked and why Lubos likes him.

32. both sides are wrong but the israeli side is more right for different reasons. if you forget all the other reasons, the arabs have all north africa and middle east and think they are treated badly for a dot on the map that wasn't even theirs.

33. Here's another take on the question:

It avoids the natural selection argument and talks mostly of a historic cultural disposition to education. Personally, I think cultural traits and evolutionary traits go hand in hand, but what do I know.

34. forgot to mention that Hawking is overrated too.

35. My guess it that France is probably teamed by mostly French Canadians. Sort of like how the Italian and Spanish teams were mostly Americans at the World Baseball Classic.

Impressive accomplishment no matter if my guess is correct or not. Félicitations!!

36. AJ, according to Wikipédia Florian Hardy, the goalkeeper, is French from Nantes! Funnily enough his page has already been updated for his exploit in this match against Russia ;-). They didn't waste any time to boast about it, lol! I've checked for Fleury, Roussel, Bachet: all purely French ;-).

37. Apparently you didn't actually read Haramein's new paper. Most bloggers like you who know a bit of quantum mechanics and string theory tend to leap on anyone who is alternative enough to suggest that just *maybe* the strong force was a bad idea designed to replace a huge problem in quantum mechanical equations... Nassim elegantly replaces it with Gravity, and his mathematics and theory are tight. Read the paper.

38. These are cool generalizations of Maxwell :-D

http://motls.blogspot.de/2013/02/branes-as-generalization-of-charged.html

39. I watched his video - too funny with the cheesy music and radio announcer narrator. Maybe he got hit in the head with his surfboard too many times out there? He's one dizzy dude.

40. Dear Anna, I personally wonder if the reason would be mainly because in Jewish religion they are still waiting for "the one", Jesus-like savior, whereas Christianity has already found him... The Quest is in their DNA.

41. Lol, that would also explain why he sees everything spinning!

42. That could certainly explain the appearance of Nassim-Haramein! He obviously wants to be (mis)taken as "the one" by his acolytes as you can plainly see by the look in his eye. Embarrassingly disgusting really. No shame. (Or maybe he just wants to bed a lot of nubile naifs -- and I bet he gets them too.)

43. Dear Apollo, first of all, I don't belong to "most bloggers" and I know more about these things than Haramein plus his whole cult combined. Second, one can replace the strong force inside the proton by gravity - neither elegantly nor inelegantly - for example for the simple reason (but there are many other, equally serious reasons) that gravity is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times weaker than the strong force. I avoided the scientific notation with exponents because it seems unlikely that you would understand it.

44. "vortex math"--Wow, I didn't realize there was such flagrant bullshit in crackpot space. I thought at least they would be misusing twistors and spinors for their vortices :), but NO, a base 10 numerology trick generates absolutely everything in existence! These guys must be Lee Smolin's new Einsteins. One of them managed to even give a TEDx talk.

45. Well , if he says that strong force should be replaced by gravity then he should be commited for superstupidity

46. Well, if he actually produces the said free energy then he will have caught up with those who can already do it. However he appears to be an average nutjob and thus has no chance in my opinion.

47. Exactly! :)

48. Sadly, I've watched a few pretty fluffy TEDx talks, Gordon. The brand is becoming cheap.

49. Stephen Paul KingMay 10, 2013, 2:29:00 PM

The NH 'theory' seems to predict a granular space-time. Is this correct? If so, does not the resent observations of ultra-high energy gamma rays contraindicate such theories?

50. Maybe science is a religion indeed, since I have just noted that Lumo is a "Double-Guru" at Physics SE :-P :-D ;-)

51. Accurate deconstruction of this crackpot Lubosz. On an amusing side note, did you notice that blogspot seems to react on keywords in your post causing it to advertise the guy's books?

52. Cheesy might be the word you were looking for. Morsels for the masses.

53. Shannon... I actually believe you're correct. C'est vraiment incroyable!!

First us Canadians had to worry about the Russians, then the Czechs, then the Swedes, then the Fins, and possibly now the Germans and Swiss. Could it be that soon we'll have to worry about the French? At least your countrymen up in the Alps.

Competition is always good. Welcome to the club!

54. I guess I should have mentioned the USA in there somewhere. I'll put it just behind the Fins.

55. Nassim Haramein belongs on Fantasy island. There is no other place on
this side of the multi-universe where you can get money for nothing and
cargo-cult physics.

Deplane!, Deplane!

56. Lumo, there appears to be a new Boston Jagr in the Mullet club:

And I forgot to mention Slovakia above. Bondra just about killed us in the 2010 Olympics. Old habits die hard. I considered Slovakia the suffix for the Czech prefix.

57. You don't even know what a quark is dude. You speak so confidently... tell me Wtf these particles are that you so freely proclaim are fundamental. Break apart his math and logic before you start throwing around names of particles that may or may not exist as fundamental. break his math dude.. his most recent paper.. go ahead tear it apart.

58. Brian G ValentineJun 6, 2013, 9:13:00 PM

Never saw this. And here I thought that some AGW maniac was going to be this year's Science Crap Hall of Fame winner!

59. He doesn't just say it should be replaced he provides the equations in which to do so. You just made it obvious that you have not even read the paper and are just jumping on the "lets make fun of this new-agey looking thing" band wagon. Too bad for you....

60. Lumo,

you are so full of shit. You think you know it all and you so much lack respect for others.

You are a sad guy, I feel sorry for you.

61. All this from a guy who says that proton is glued together by glue, and is mostly MESS. How scientific of you, and it certainly gives you the right to trash someone.

62. Hi, a mental cripple,

the words "glue" and "mess" are completely standard scientific terms describing the complexity of the proton's inner structure. You may see that e.g. the first paper listed here